Last Sunday, on 15 April, a police patrol in Toulouse arrested a niqab wearing woman because she refused to show her face. In France a law adopted in 2010 states that no one public spaces may wear clothing that hides their face.

The event took place in the city’s migrant populated Mirail suburb and sparked five consecutive nights of violence.

Footage shows that the arrested woman is heavily resisting her arrest and she is shouting insults at the cops. In a matter of minutes, a group of protesters rapidly formed and forced the cops to throw tear gas grenades to disperse the crowd.

The woman was placed in custody and will be judged in mid-May for “rebellion, outrage and violence on a custodian person holding public authority”.

Unfortunately, the problems were just the beginning: In the same area, a few hours later, approximatively 100 rioters started to burn cars and containers. A police station in the area was attacked as well.

The cops were called, and a fight broke out between police and rioters. The police had to call the Republican Security Companies, a unit who specialize in crowd and riot control, and a helicopter.

A rioter, who was filming said in the video: “We were worried they weren’t coming (the cops), so we went to the commissariat to see if they’re ok. Apparently yes.”

The riots took place from Sunday night to Thursday night. As of right now, there have been: 23 arrests, 76 burned cars, 200 police mobilised and a 5th night of difficult sleep for the civilised habitants of the district.

Fortunately, there are no human injuries so far, which is actually surprising, especially when police were speaking of “well-orchestrated ambushes” that took place, with some people arrested with acetone bottles, gas bottles and mortars, ready to be thrown at the brave men and women in uniforms.

Several of the cars were destroyed with Molotov cocktails at a local Citroen dealer near the migrant suburb. Bernard Boyer, the head of the business is “desperate” and is lamenting a 110,000 euros loss. He told news outlet Ladepeche, previously in the 2005 riots, 6 cars had been burned in his business.

A police commander familiar to the area, said on Thursday that they were expecting the violence to stop really soon. Not because the rioters were feeling tired but rather because, “drugs trafficking is the main source of income of the neighbourhood” and for a drug kingpin, this kind of event is not good for business.

These type of riots, following arrests in migrant suburbs, are a common occurrence in France. In 2005, large-scale riots in Paris and throughout the country took place after two criminals were electrocuted during a police chase. Almost 9,000 vehicles were burned and two civilians were killed by rioters.

Last year riots started on 4 February 2017, in a Paris surburb, following the alleged, though never proven, rape of a black man named Théo L. by police with a baton.

The cases were so numerous after the adoption of the 2010 ‘face hiding’ law, that police officers didn’t usually enforce it, frightened by the known consequences of such action. Toulouse’s riots show why police are afraid: Sources say they didn’t stop the riots, but powerful gang leaders who couldn’t deal drugs in the area did.

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